Florida failing to report names to mental health databases, stats show

Only Hillsborough County aggressively reporting

Floridians with mental illnesses may have an easier time getting their hands on a gun than in many other states, even though there are laws in place aimed at preventing this.

In 2013, Florida expanded a law so that anyone who has been committed to a mental health facility for treatment against their will, usually by being Baker Acted, is barred from buying a gun.

The same law also requires that when someone is committed for treatment, their name is also supposed to be submitted to Florida's Mental Competency database as well as the FBI's National Instance Criminal background check system (NICS) which tracks mental illness on the federal level.

Yet Florida appears to lag behind other states in reporting mental health to NICS.

141,042 Floridians names were on the NICS in 2016, FBI records show.

The similarly-populated state of New York had 463,605 names submitted in the same amount of time.

And much less-populated states like North Carolina (10th most populated state in the country) and New Jersey (11th most populated state in the country) have also reported far more names than Florida as for the end of 2016; NC reported 272,337 and NJ reported 431,543.

Reporting to the FDLE and NICS happens on a county by county basis.

The only county in Florida that appears to aggressively follow the reporting law is Hillsborough County, where at least 3,400 people have been reported to the FDLE and NICS systems in each of the past three years.

By comparison, bigger counties like Miami-Dade and Broward Counties have only reported several hundred names to these databases.

There was a national rule requiring checks on people with mental illnesses created by the Obama Administration in 2013, but almost exactly 1 year ago, just days after taking office, President Donald Trump eliminated a rule that would have added people receiving Social Security checks for mental illnesses, and people deemed unfit to handle their own financial affairs, to the national background check database.

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